When I first moved to Warkworth more than 20 years ago, the town still felt like a village with a stable population, many of whom were in the older age bracket. Over the years, the population has grown steadily and, with that, there’s been a slowly changing demographic.
Since Auckland Council declared that Warkworth and Pukekohe were to become satellite towns to central Auckland, a new Unitary Plan has been formulated, which forecasts a population increase from around 5000 to 28,000 within the next 20 to 30 years. Already, a new development has started at Warkworth Ridge of just under 1000 houses and a comparable-sized development is planned for the old Stubbs Farm land in the near future. Large developments are also likely to occur in Warkworth South and between Sandspit and Matakana Roads.
With this increase in population will come a total change to the local demographic, as we expect the majority of newcomers to be young families. So, with this changing demographic, we need to focus on providing the facilities that will meet both existing population needs and those of younger people.
There needs to be innovative and comprehensive planning, fully engaging the community, to make Warkworth a place where people want to live. As well as retaining the character of old Warkworth, planning needs to include the provision of adequate education and health facilities; green spaces and recreational facilities; vibrant retail and business centres; local employment opportunities; improved public transport, pedestrian and cycleways; cultural facilities; and the provision of key infrastructure prior to these huge population increases.
One Mahurangi is working closely with a number of community groups and agencies to address many of the issues highlighted above. This includes the co-chairing of the Transport & Infrastructure Forum, which has been influential in obtaining funding for the Matakana link road, detailed design of the Hill Street intersection, and funding business cases for the Sandspit Link Road, the Western Collector and a number of other infrastructure projects. Recently, the One Mahurangi Transport & Infrastructure Forum, through its links with parliamentarians, was successful in persuading the government not to toll the motorway between Puhoi and Warkworth. This decision has significant economic benefits to Warkworth and all of Northland.
One Mahurangi is also involved in a number of planning actions, not only through our own initiatives, but also in conjunction with other community groups, including a centre plan for the CBD, tourism opportunities with Auckland Unlimited, Mahurangi river restoration, saving the weir, cycleways, and the routing through central Warkworth of the wastewater network.
We realise that much more needs to be done, but we are lucky that One Mahurangi has a number of members with planning, design and specialist skills that, with the involvement of the community, contribute to the development of a town that retains its existing character, but also caters for the expected increase in numbers of young families and other population growth.